Contact: Xiaobo

The Smart Microsystems Laboratory, directed by Dr. Xiaobo Tan, is interested in the development of novel robotic platforms for mobile sensing in water, including open water, wastewater pipelines, and drainage pipes. For example, the lab has developed gliding robotic fish, remotely operated underwater vechiles (ROVs), and unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) for applications such as monitoring harmful algal blooms, tracking fish movement, and underwater search and rescue. The lab is also active in the development of new sensors; for example, we are interested in developing smart sensing panels for detecting and deterring sea lampreys, a major invasive species in the Great Lakes.


CPS: Synergy: Tracking Fish Movement with a School of Gliding Robotic Fish

The goal of this project was to create an integrative framework for the design of coupled robotic and biological systems that accommodates system uncertainties and competing objectives in a rigorous and holistic manner. The project was carried out by focusing on a concrete motivating application of tracking acoustically tagged fish using a group of gliding robotic fish. It spanned the design and development of robotic platforms, control algorithms for individual robots and for a network of robots, and extensive field tests for characterizing the localization, navigation, and tag detection performance of gliding robotic fish and other aquatic robots.

Funded by: National Science Foundation

Exploiting the Unexploited: A Smart Panel System for In-situ Detection of Adult Sea Lampreys

This project focused on the design, development, and testing of low-cost portable smart panel system for detecting the suction and attachment of sea lampreys. Several sensing principles and approaches were explored. First, a soft capacitive pressure sensor, made with a convenient and low-cost screen-printing process, was developed. While the sensor exhibited repeatable response for thousands of cycles and a 12 12-pixel sensor array demonstrated the capability of mapping pressure profiles in air and under water for abiotic stimuli, experiments with sea lamprey attachment did not yield clear suction patterns, likely due to the capacitive interference from the lamprey body.  Second, several novel (rigid) sensing panels were constructed using commercially available pressure sensors, and experiments were conducted to measure the suction pressure dynamics of sea lampreys. Third, a soft resistive pressure sensor array was developed using piezoresistive films (Velostat) and a 10-pixel sensor array showed resistance change patterns associated with suction by sea lampreys. Finally, another lamprey attachment sensor was developed based on interdigitated electrodes that could be easily fabricated and probed.

Experiments showed that the voltage output of the device exhibited a distinct exponential decay following the attachment of a lamprey mouth. Overall this project not only resulted in significant knowledge about suction pressure behavior of sea lampreys, but also at least two sensor technologies for detecting the lamprey suction that, with further development, hold promise for field deployment. These technologies will help address critical gaps in sea lamprey life history and ecology (e.g., understanding of their refuge-seeking behavior and habitat characteristics, and stream-entry timing) and have broad-ranging applications to new trapping system design and selective fish passage.

Funded by: Great Lakes Fishery Commission